Dining Outside the Home: Nine One Five in Key West, Florida. During the day you may walk by this charming whitewashed Victorian home, with ocean blue accents, thinking it’s a magnificent private residence. What a glorious sight. However once the evening hours roll around, every table seems to be filled with jovial guests on the wrap-around veranda before overflowing into the front yard beyond the white picket fence. Notice how the amber lights soften the mood for intimacy and celebration. Your first thought may be, “How do I get invited to the party?” My advice? Make a reservation because if you don’t, you’ll wish you did. Take time to enjoy every course. For starters, think about the raw Ahi Tuna Gravlax or fig balsamic Burrata. Delectable choices. Homemade pastas like fettuccine, cannot be resisted, especially when mixed with Key West pink shrimp and capers. The menu is varied to appeal to every palate. Go ahead, you’re worth it.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Elegant Chicken! Rummage through your collection of “fundraiser cookbooks” and you’re sure to find this hidden gem. By baking it ahead, you save hours preparing the meal. It transforms an ordinary chicken dinner into a crowd-pleaser, especially with its thick creamy sauce and hint of hickory-smoked bacon. Serve Elegant Chicken over wild rice or buttered noodles. Either way, you’ll wonder how you lived without this classic dish so long.
8 5-ounce chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
8 slices bacon, uncooked
4 ounces dried beef, chopped
10-ounce can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
8 ounces Greek yogurt
Paprika to garnish
Preheat oven to 275°. Grease a 9″x13″ casserole dish. Layer the bottom of the casserole dish with dried beef. Wrap each chicken breast with one strip of bacon. Arrange chicken over dried beef. Blend cream of mushroom soup with Greek yogurt. Spoon over chicken breasts. Sprinkle lightly with paprika. Bake uncovered for 3 hours until chicken is cooked.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Burrata Meatballs! Time is of the essence. You can either make your own homemade meatballs, or you can bypass one step and use a store bought variety like I did. I put my energy into the homemade marinara sauce simply because the results are between night and day, in my opinion. If you choose to use your favorite pasta sauce, be my guest. The focus today is actually on that incredible Burrata cheese! I think I could drown in a bathtub of Burrata and happily eat my way out of it. Don’t judge me.
1 pound Italian sausage-style meatballs, precooked
2 cups San Marzano crushed tomatoes*
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/8 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
7 ounces mushrooms, sliced and drained
6 ounces Burrata cheese, chunks
Preheat oven to 350°. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, combine crushed tomatoes, basil, marjoram, oregano, garlic powder, and mushrooms. Simmer until sauce thickens. Add meatballs. Spoon marinara sauce generously over meatballs. Transfer portions to individual serving casseroles. Randomly place Burrata cheese between meatballs. Bake 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve Burrata Meatballs with garlic bread or spoon over pasta.
* I receive no recompense for the suggestion of San Marzano Certified Italian Tomatoes.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Veggie Pot Pie! Do you like to make pie dough? What if it’s not flaky? Are you okay with that? How do you keep the bottom crust from being soggy? Is it necessary to have a top crust? All very good questions, I assure you. Forget them for now and come with me into the land of phyllo dough where tissue-thin layers of unleavened dough are brushed with melted butter creating a crispy golden crunch. Expert bakers took the time and skill to make our lives easier by rolling and stretching the dough multiple times so we don’t have to. The result is a product as close as our neighborhood grocer. With pre-made phyllo dough as your starting point, anyone can be a gourmet chef. No dough-making required.
VEGGIE POT PIE
7-ounce box antioxidant blend frozen vegetables, thawed
1 cup pearl onions
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup frozen green beans, thawed
1 sweet potato, skin on
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, cut-up
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
12 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed in the refrigerator overnight
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
Keep phyllo dough chilled until ready to use. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine antioxidant vegetable blend, pearl onions, corn, peas, and green beans. Gently toss to keep vegetables from mashing. Wash skin of sweet potato. Pierce with a knife. Microwave on High setting for 3 minutes. Let sweet potato cool enough to handle before cutting into cubes. Gently toss into vegetable mixture. Warm olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushroom pieces. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Cook, stirring occasionally until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl of mixed vegetables. Add parmesan cheese. Mix beaten egg into vegetables. Sprinkle with kosher salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Butter a 9” iron skillet. Unroll the phyllo sheets and lay them on a flat surface. Immediately cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel. This prevents the dough from drying out. Keep phyllo covered after removing each sheet. Fit one phyllo sheet into the skillet, allowing the edges to hang over the sides. Brush lightly with melted butter. Continue working quickly by placing one phyllo sheet in the skillet at a time. Turn skillet a quarter-turn, then top with a second sheet; brush lightly with butter. Repeat with remaining sheets and butter. When finished there should be about a tablespoon of butter left. Spoon vegetable mixture evenly over phyllo layers. Sprinkle goat cheese over top. Fold edges of phyllo dough up and over the filling toward the center, overlapping slightly. Center will be exposed. Brush the top of the phyllo with remaining butter. Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown. Transfer iron skillet to a wire rack. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. The flavor of roasted vegetables intensifies at room temperature. Serve warm. (Leftovers may be reheated in the iron skillet with the crust remaining crisp.)
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Red Onion Mexican Street Tacos! As promised, today’s feature recipe takes us down the road to Jalisco-style tacos. Forget about the “loaded” tortilla shells you may be familiar with, or even default to when making Mexican food at home. This handheld taco steps “outside the box”. The ingredients are fewer, yet focus on freshness. For those who appreciate it, cilantro is a star attraction. Roasted meat, shredded into small pieces, and chopped red onions with a squeeze of lime wedge create a flavor explosion that, honestly, will pull you back enough to slow down and savor every bite. Perhaps you may even chew your food 20 or 30 times before swallowing to appreciate this virtual trip to a seldom-traveled Mexican village.
RED ONION MEXICAN STREET TACOS
24-count street-size corn tortillas
1 pound seasoned shredded turkey or pork carnitas
1 red onion, chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
2 limes, cut into wedges
Jalisco Pico de Gallo*
Warm shredded carnita meat in a microwave-proof covered casserole dish until steamy and heated through. Set aside. To warm street-size corn tortillas, place a dry iron skillet on the stove top over medium heat. Cook tortillas 30 seconds per side. Wrap a stack of five or six in aluminum foil to keep warm in a 200° preheated oven. When ready to assemble, place a portion of carnitas on each corn tortilla. Layer with chopped cilantro and red onions. Squeeze a lime wedge over all. Top with Jalisco Pico de Gallo.
*Follow the link for recipe.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Basil Pesto Pasta! I’m tired. And I’m hungry. What in the world can I cook for dinner that doesn’t take forever? But I want the taste to make me feel like I’m someone special. First of all, go over to the wine rack and open a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. Pour a little into a stemmed glass. Swirl and take a sip. This will put you in the mood. The wonderfully sweet herbal notes of the fresh basil will complement the flavor of the wine. Plus, the olive oil and parmesan cheese in the pesto sauce enhance the richness of fruit in the Cab. Take another sip. Now let’s get started. (Footnote: Obviously if you already have a jar of your favorite Basil Pesto in the kitchen pantry, you’re one step ahead.)
BASIL PESTO PASTA
10.5 ounce package of cherry tomatoes
12 large basil leaves
1/3 cup almonds, slightly toasted
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 pound spaghetti
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Combine cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, toasted almonds, garlic clove, and kosher salt in a food processor. Pulse to blend into a fine purée. Scrape the sides and turn the processor on Low setting. Slowly pour the olive oil into the mixture in a continuous stream. The pesto will thicken nicely. Set aside. Cook the spaghetti in salted water, according to package directions. Drain well. Transfer spaghetti to a bowl. Quickly toss with pesto sauce. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over all. Garnish with basil leaves.
The secret to a good cook is pretty basic. Look to their kitchen for essential tools and you will discover why food preparation comes as naturally as breathing. Start Smart. For instance, a chef’s knife makes short work for cutting and chopping. Wooden spoons are perfect for stirring and mixing, plus they look great in a counter caddy. My son recently introduced me to the handy-dandy fat separator for making unbelievable lump-free gravy. How did I not know of this? It’s pure genius! I could go on and on about food processors, dutch ovens, spiralizers, and rice cookers, but you get the idea. Recently I froze some Farmers Market corn by removing the kernels from the cob with my corn peeler. (There really is such a thing.) Now you know…anyone can be a gourmet chef…like me. lol. Some of my posts have been favored by the “Food Network” on Twitter (Snapshotsincursive @DornaGail) as well as Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa, on Instagram (gail _dorna). You can even find me on Pinterest at Gail Dorna. I’d love to connect with you there as well. I also met Chef Michelle Tribble of Hell’s Kitchen reality cooking show. Fun times. Experience different flavors and textures one bite at a time. Catch a glimpse of “Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Start Smart.” This remarkable journey of the palate is unique because it gives me a few moments with you. Thanks very much to all of my guests and followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement. As of this writing, WordPress has acknowledged that I’m on a 1641-day streak. Let’s keep it going!
In a world of instant gratification, it may be tough to come up with new ideas for meals in a flash, let alone prepare them at home before someone in the house hits “pizza” on the speed dial. Truth is, there’s a world of fabulous options available. Let me help you, since I think about meal-planning practically all the time. If you open your mind to flavorful combinations, I promise you won’t be disappointed. Time flies on this journey of the palate. Thanks very much to all my followers on the website http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement. Follow me on Facebook at Gail Dorna, on Instagram @gail_dorna and Twitter @ Snapshotsincursive. What’s cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? It’s as simple as A-B-C. One of my passions is being at home in my own country kitchen. No matter how much we travel, I relish the thought of returning there to create something delicious. I adore time-honored traditions using tried-and-true recipes. Yet, I often never think twice about tweaking old favorites or modifying others to suit the inner craving of the moment. The recipes you will find here in the next several weeks can be prepared very easily. Feel free to contact me with questions. Now take a deep breath, inhale the aromas, and join me on a tasteful journey entitled, “EATING MY WAY THROUGH THE ALPHABET: FAB FOODSTUFF!”
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Yellow Squash Bolognese! I’m at it again. The Spiralizer has become my new best friend. This time the star attraction is yellow squash noodles in place of pasta. But first, prepare the Bolognese sauce. It not only takes a bit longer, but it will turn your kitchen into an aromatic sensation. The rich Italian Bolognese sauce is a time-honored tradition that can take up to four hours to duplicate. This version, however, requires less than an hour from start to finish. I knew you would appreciate that fact.
YELLOW SQUASH BOLOGNESE
Ingredients for Bolognese Sauce:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, diced
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 pound ground Sweet Italian sausage
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1/8 teaspoon marjoram
1/8 teaspoon oregano
1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
8 basil leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
In an iron skillet over medium heat, combine olive oil, Vidalia onion, and minced garlic. Add celery, carrot, and mushrooms. Sauté 5 minutes. Increase heat and add ground Italian sausage, fennel, marjoram, and oregano. Cook until meat is no longer pink and appears crumbled, approximately 10 minutes. Lower heat and add tomatoes, parsley, basil, sea salt, and pepper. Cook until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 30 minutes.
Ingredients for Noodles:
1-2 yellow squash
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Spiralize the yellow squash into noodles. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil. Add yellow squash noodles; toss gently. Sauté no longer than two minutes. The noodles will turn soft, but not translucent. Serve with Bolognese sauce garnished with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.